According to what I had read, Dixie National Forest in Utah was a hidden gem, often overlooked by it’s neighboring park, Bryce Canyon National Park. Dixie caught my eye as it allowed leashed dogs on their trails – so of course we would be making a stop!
I pulled into the Red Canyon visitor center parking lot and was pelted by the heaviest rain yet. I was soaked by the time I ran from the truck to the building. I had on a rain jacket and I was dry underneath but the jacket was glued to my body. Needless to say I looked sharp!
I checked out the visitor center for a bit and reviewed the weather forecast for the next few days… clouds, lighting bolts and flash flood warnings… delightful.
We visited this park on two different days. Our first day it was just after the rainstorm and later the next day, where we were spoiled with sunshine! Needless to say the weather reporters are not always right!
On our first visit, Boomer and I drove a short distance from the visitor center and found the trailhead for the Hoodoo trail. It was a short hike, just over a quarter of a mile (0.4 km) and followed along the hoodoos. Although the trail was short the scenery was stunning….
The next day we struggled with finding a hiking trail. And like a typical man (although clearly I am no man) I refused to go to the visitor center to ask for directions. I stopped at the Cassidy Trail first. Boomer and I hopped out of the truck and began finding our way along the path. We eventually lost the trail and I gave up as to prevent us from getting lost. The Cassidy Trail was believed to be used by the outlaw Butch Cassidy and I can only assume he covered his tracks well, hence why we lost the trail.
We carried on to our next stop, parking at the same spot we had the day prior. This day we would try a hiking trail on the opposite side of the highway. I found this trailhead sign indicating two trailheads which should have been a ½ mile ahead. Wouldn’t you get that from this sign?
Boomer and I crossed the dry river (and we hoped it stayed dry while we visited the area!) and followed a trail. I have mentioned this before but will again – I have no concept of distance or time. I do know for a fact that we were more than a ½ mile from where that trailhead sign was. Confused, we continued to walk on as I was determined to find the trailhead. The scenery was magnificent but I gave into frustration and decided that walking to this tree (or 1/2 of a tree I guess) would suffice.
I always feel compelled when walking to pick a point and say to myself ‘we have to make it that far to be finished’. The tree had no meaning other than I had given up trying to find the trailhead.
As far as I am concerned, Dixie National Forest is the hidden gem just as it was reported. Due to Dixie National Forest being federal lands, leashed dogs are welcome, which worked out well for Boomer. I probably could have spent more time at the visitors center gathering information on how to successfully hike in this park, but for the most part we found a few trails and enjoyed ourselves… even if we were slightly afraid of that tree and had to stand as far away from it as possible.
If you would like to visit Dixie National Forest it is located off of Utah Highway 12 about 9 miles from Panguitch Utah or 15 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park. The park is fee free for the most part, only charging in the Pine Valley Recreation Area. Check out their site for more information regarding hiking and campgrounds.